I was asked to comment on where I believe Sales Training is today in the UAE and where I believe it is heading. For those of you that have read any of my earlier articles, you will know that I’m not a great fan of ‘off the shelf, one size fits all sales training’. I’d prefer to consider the topic of improving sales performance by referring to the process as Sales Development. Bulk, standard sales training, telling a salesperson how to sell, just does not work. Off the shelf 2-day courses may allow for some basic learning but the change of behavior required for significant improvement is limited.
So, Sales Development, how has it evolved? Let’s go back to the boom years before and after the financial crisis at the end of the 2000’s. Did we need sales people back then? Probably not, the economy was booming and everybody’s business was thriving. Then all this nosedived as it often does in an emerging economy; suddenly so called ‘sales people’ were exposed and needed to start convincing clients to spend money on their product or service.
So here are my 4 top topics that are key for Sales Training in 2018, 2019 and beyond
1. Selling Value
Many salespeople in the UAE still lack the basic knowledge that the only consideration that people make when they are buying something is the value of the transaction. No matter how much a person wants an item, they will always consider what they will be getting from that purchase and how much it is going to cost them. This is Value.
Unfortunately, most UAE sales people today still focus far too much on their product or service without understanding the client well enough to link what they can offer to the client’s actual situation. We all need to remember that nobody buys products or services - they buy what the product or service will do for them. If sales people simply go around talking about their products or services, it becomes a very expensive marketing communications strategy.
As companies begin to realize this, they know that even as the economy picks up again, the UAE market has matured, they need to fight for business and Selling Skills, or the ability to convince and persuade becomes a must.
Why is this important?
If a sales person works on 20 Opportunities, each opportunity is worth AED 20,000 and they have a current closing ratio of 20%, this means that they are generating AED 80,000 per month with 4 clients saying YES, but with16 saying NO.
If their Selling Skills were developed and they were successful even occasionally, (meaning they won’t work every time), what would the impact be? Imaging that even with their improved skills, 15 of the current opportunities still say no. They work on just one. This means the 4 Yes’s become 5, the AED 80,0000 becomes AED100,000 and this is an increase in revenue of 25%.
Selling value, will close more business and make step changes to results. Now this must be worth the effort put into driving this improvement.
In addition to this, there is a fantastic statistic out there that 80% of all buyers that negotiate have already made their mind up on the value of the deal you are offering them, and negotiation is simply a tactic to buy at a cheaper price. If you know this then clearly discounting is most usually not necessary.
So, do you need a 3 or 4-day negotiation skills course? There are plenty of them out there but for most normal selling situations, it’s unlikely that you need to go into so much depth. If every sales person understands and remembers the following simple points, they will be successful in most negotiations.
Why is it important?
If you sell an item for AED 100 and your cost is AED 80, you are making AED 20 per item. However, if you want to close a deal and the client has put pressure on you for a 10% discount (sounds reasonable sometimes), and you agree, you are now selling for AED 90, but your cost remains at AED 80, so your profit is now AED 10 per item. You have just lost 50% of your profit and as discussed earlier in 80% of the cases, negotiation is just a tactic and the clients already see the value as it is!
Your sales team is a cost and therefore everything they do between 9 and 5 means the meter is ticking Do you believe there is any ‘meat on the bone’ for your sales team to be:
If you can improve these areas it will reap huge benefits.
My synopsis of this is that sales people tend to treat the job as a job (which is natural) and tend to go in to autopilot once the initial excitement of the job reduces. They kind of float through the days completing tasks without being sure if they are having any impact on revenue results.
For me every task a sales person completes should be related to increasing revenue results. If you can increase the percentage of each day that a sales person is completing a ‘revenue generating activity, then you are going to be more successful.
If the team is completing activities in the following areas it means they are focused
So, if you were to develop your staff through sales training, what areas should you look at that have the most impact on results? Here are some simple ideas:
Why is it important?
Let’s take a slightly different view on this situation by looking at cost rather than revenue. Your sales team is costing you thousands of dirhams per month (it’s normally far more than you think) and at your present productivity is delivering your current level of revenue. If you want to drive and increase this revenue, many companies will feel that the only way to grow is employ more sales staff.
Well why not improve your current sales teams activities between 9 and 5 and drive more revue with what you have got (normally a fully focused sales team will increase results by 20 or 30%). Clearly, there is significant additional profit to be made without incurring any additional fixed costs on your sales department, which is already likely to be considerable.
I find that many companies expect their sales managers to sell directly as otherwise they become a simple cost to the organization. Many people believe that if the leader brings in revenue as well it justifies their existence. Well I’m not going to debate this now.
What I believe everybody should agree with is that all sales staff need to be developed and all leaders (Sales Managers), need to find time to do this.
In addition, they need to understand just how important coaching is, make time for it and continually improve their skills in coaching. Both of these topics come under Sales Training (Sales Development) and normally go hand in hand in developing the sales team.
Why is it important?
A good sales coach can easily get an extra 25% out of every sales person after a period of 3 – 6 months of coaching. If sales managers dedicate one hour a week to everyone on their team, that is only four hours a month per salesperson. Imagine the ROI and the corresponding impact the activity has on results - Just four hours of the leaders’ time is growing every territory by 25%.
As you can see I have outlined the areas of Sales Training (Sales Development) that I believe are required to be successful in this market today and in the near futures.
It is important for everybody to be aware that we are not really successful if we let the market dictate how well we do. For example some customers feel they are blitzing it if their business is growing by 22% year on year, but their industry may be growing by 30%. They are actually losing market share! Others may be unhappy they are going backward by -5%, but the industry is -9%. They are growing their market share and when the economy picks up they will be in the driving seat.
How do you take market share? Drop prices hoping you can increase them in the future? No, the key is to develop your sales team to be better, to be more productive and better than your competition. Your customers will appreciate this in the good times and the bad.
Peter Heredia has had an extremely successful career holding various commercial positions over a 28 year period within a variety of industries. A lifetime sales professional, working across the globe, he has been a UAE resident now for more than 19 years. More recently, he has been a key executive with MaxSale Solutions; a Dubai based Sales Improvement Organisation.
Peter has spent 15 years managing Sales People, and prides himself on knowing how to ensure that every Sales Person is successful. He is aware of the everyday ‘ups and downs’ of a Sales Manager’s role, and understands that the only way for them to ensure sustainable improvement is to become a coach for their staff. He understands that “Things are different in Emerging Markets” but that the principles needed to drive growth and professionalism from a Sales Organisation will always be the same.
Peter is a regularly published author of Sales Improvement articles and is currently penning his fourth Sales Improvement Book on Professional Selling. He was also the “Sales Expert” on Dubai TV’s the Entrepreneur reality show, where he coached the entrants on how to improve their sales plans.
An enthusiastic educator, Peter regularly provides support to educational programmes in the Region such as MBA coaching on Leadership and Sales Planning. He is an in demand speaker at corporate leadership sessions, providing fun, interactive sessions that get management teams focused on how to drive their revenue performance.
Peter is a charismatic facilitator for Sales Improvement Workshops and Training. He always gets the most from every attendee by naturally involving all participants, keeping everything relevant and sharing his and their experiences to ensure maximum learning in every situation. In addition, Peter has developed ‘easy to use’ and highly effective Sales Automation, built training programs and workshops around his customer’s requirements to meet and exceed their desired outcomes, and has written and delivered Sales Improvement Programs to the Small to Medium business's across a range of industries within Emerging Markets
Peter is the author of the following books:
About MaxSale Solutions
Sales Improvement Organisation. Max Sale Solutions UAE provides bespoke sales courses, sales training & development.